Vol 7. Issue 6 / February 26, 2007


Richard Lerner to Receive Honorary Degree from Oxford
Richard A. Lerner, president of The Scripps Research Institute, will be among nine leading figures from the world of science, politics, and the arts to receive honorary degrees from the University of Oxford this year.

Lerner, who also holds the titles of Lita Annenberg Hazen Professor of Immunochemistry, Cecil H and Ida M Green Chair in Chemistry, and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research, is being recognized for "his work in the field of catalytic antibodies which has shown that antibodies can be employed as enzymes." Lerner pioneered catalytic antibodies, simultaneously with Scripps Research Professor Peter Schultz (then at the University of California, Berkeley), as well as combinatorial antibody libraries. Today, about 55 percent of all new drug applications are antibodies.

Also receiving honorary degrees will be:

• Jimmy Carter, president of the United States from 1977 to 1981 and a Nobel Peace Prize winner,

• Baroness Brenda Hale of Richmond, a barrister and judge who became the first woman to join the House of Lords as a Law Lord, a member of the U.K.'s highest court of appeal,

• Dame Antonia Susan Byatt, a Booker Prize-winning author and critic,

• Sir Clive Granger, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and emeritus professor at the University of California, San Diego,

 • Ariane Mnouchkine, a stage and film director who has won acclaim for both her interpretations of classic plays and her own works,

 • Daniel Moses Barenboim, a pianist and conductor and Music Director of the Berlin State Opera as well as Principal Guest Conductor of Milan's La Scala opera house,

 • Lord May of Oxford, a mathematical biologist with the University of Oxford and Imperial College who has been credited with creating the field of "chaotic dynamics" in biology.

 • Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra, a research chemist at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, India, who is best known for his work on transition metal oxides.

The honorees will receive their degrees at a ceremony on June 20, 2007.

Schultz Lab Awarded Stem Cell Grant
When the state of California announced its first round of funding for human embryonic stem cell research on February 16, a project submitted by Scripps Research Professor Peter Schultz was among those receiving grant money. The project, entitled "A Chemical Approach to Stem Cell Biology," aims to screen large collections of small molecules to identify molecules that allow scientists to propagate human embryonic stem cells in cell culture under defined conditions in an undifferentiated, pluripotent state. The $784,900 grant will be awarded over two years. For more information, see the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Ehlers Group to Participate in New Underage Drinking Prevention Research
The Scripps Research group of Associate Professor Cindy Ehlers will help design, implement, and evaluate a new program recently funded by a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant was awarded to a team from: The Prevention Research Center in Berkeley, The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, and the Indian Health Council in Pauma Valley, California. The Indian Health Council is the primary provider of medical services to Native Americans in nine North County reservations. The aim of the grant is to build a program of primary care services and community action to prevent underage drinking in Native American young people.

Underage drinking is a major problem nationally as well as in some rural Native American communities. Dr. Ehlers' recently published studies have demonstrated that youth who begin drinking before the age of 13 may have as much as an 85% chance of developing alcohol dependence in their lifetime. It appears that the older a young person is when they start drinking the less likely they are to develop alcohol dependence.

Young people between the ages of 8 and 21 as well as parents, community members, schools, law enforcement, and healthcare systems in Pauma Valley and Santa Ysabel, California, will participate in designing and testing the program to prevent underage drinking. The program will involve assessing drinking and its negative consequences, treatment for alcohol problems, and a community-wide program to limit access to alcohol by youth living on the nine north county reservations and surrounding rural areas.

The research is funded by the NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Findings may ultimately have wider application not only to rural Native American communities but also to other rural communities as well.

Ryan Shenvi Wins Lesly Shelton Graduate Award
Ryan Shenvi, Ph.D. candidate in the Scripps Research Kellogg School of Science and Technology in La Jolla, has received this year's Lesly Starr Shelton Award for Excellence in Chemistry Graduate Studies. The prestigious $1,000 award is given annually to graduate students of exemplary standing and progress. His research concerns the total synthesis of complex marine natural products as an engine for the discovery of unique chemical reactivity.


Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu